The Toronto photo show, “Fleeting Moments, Floating Worlds..,“ that we mentioned last week continues. What we omitted to mention was the accompanying catalog (printed and designed by the legendary Coach House Press). As curator, John Shoesmith writes in the forward – “The accompanying catalog attempts to further the story behind the Ginsberg photographs. It contains the voices of several key individuals who were crucial to the poet’s “second coming” as a photographer, beginning in the mid-1980s; from the person who planted the seed within Ginsberg to not only look at his early Beat photographs in a new light – including the suggestion that he caption them – but also to pick up a camera again and shoot the life around him, to the two primary printers who would bring Ginsberg’s photographs to life. These are important stories from those whose roles in Ginsberg’s photographic career.” The aforementioned are Raymond Foye, the latter, Brian Graham and Sid Kaplan. Also interviewed are Bob Rosenthal of the Ginsberg Estate and Jacqueline Gens, the original photo archivist.
From their interviews:
Bob Rosenthal – JS: Did he have an overall philosophy of photography. Did he ever talk about it?- BR: No, he just took pictures. He was trying different things. He started to branch out with different cameras; he bought a Rolleiflex, for example. He would sometimes carry two or three cameras with him, and he’d annoy people by taking their photograph, by making them sit still. Like that great picture of Peter Orlovsky‘s family where they all look miserable. Well, he made them look miserable. He made them sit for fifteen minutes or whatever. He was doing what he wanted to do to get the photograph. He wanted everybody in focus, he wanted their attentions to the camera and to him, and it can be like herding cats, if it was Peter’s family. But he makes it happen, and they’reall trying to honor Allen and do what he says. Because it’s Allen.Caption reads: “Peter Orlovsky b. 1933 visiting his family – Lafcadio age 47 had lived with us in San Francisco – NY 1955-61 & later intermittent years; mother Kate Orlovsky age 78 totally deaf after botched mastoid operation NY Eye & Ear Hospital circa 1930s; Laff’s twin sister Marie who’d lived with me & Peter O. in Lower East Side 1959 while she attended baby nurse school in Jersey — but quit jobs soon after, angry at hearing voices’ filthy gossip behind her back. Center Moriches Long Island, their second floor flat on lonely road, they need taxi to supermarket shopping miles away with S.S.I. checks. July 26, 1987 visit. Allen Ginsberg”. (c. Allen Ginsberg Estate)
Raymond Foye – JS: How do Allen’s photographs fall within his work as a poet? – RF: It was an extension of his poetic sensibility, and it was a way of interacting and engaging with people. Allen always had a strong sense of the historicity of the moment: everything was worth documenting. Why else would you save a laundry list from (Jack) Kerouac, or a grocery list from (William) Burroughs? That was the marvelous thing about Allen: he saw his friends as heroes, he perceived the mythic dimensions of everyday life. He honoured the moment. It also then became a diaristic endeavor, the day-to-day flow, the quotidian..”
Sid Kaplan – JS: The relationship you had with Allen was obviously more than one between photographer and printer – SK: It was. I have another (sic) story about Allen. I was going through a bad time. It was a couple of days after my stepdad dies, and of course I was the guy in charge of the funeral arrangements and all of that kind of stuff. There was unbelievable rain, there’s no food in here, and I have to go out and get something to eat. I’m walking up 12th Street, and as I’m walking past, Allen is coming out the door. Allen was going out to eat too.. So I started telling him about how bad I was feeling. So we sit down to eat together, and I don’t know how he got into it, but the next thing I got was a personal reading of “Kaddish“ as we were having dinner.It was really unbelievable…….One time I was doing an exhibition together with Robert (Frank) and Robert was spending a lot of time here, and Allen knew it. Every morning Allen would show up, sometimes with a pineapple, sometimes a cantaloupe, and I’d be in the darkroom working, and Robert and Allen were here together and just gabbing. I just knew, I was blessed, I was lucky. He definitely for me was an older brother. Allen was unbelievably nice to me. I could go on telling stories, one after another about that…”
Following up also from last week – Allen was/is/will not entirely be slighted in Cuba. Announced at the Feria International del Libro La Habana (the Havana International Book Fair, 2018) a forthcoming edition of Howl, (Aullido y otros poemas), published by Ediciones La Luz. According to Luis Yuseff, editor-in-chief of the well-known Holguín publishing house: “Aullido y otros poemas resulta una excelente traducción de una de las voces más polémicas y sugerentes del siglo XX norteamericano, Allen Ginsberg ….Esta traducción de Ariel López Home no traiciona el espíritu original del poeta, en cambio está su turbulencia, su tono urgido e incesante, su voz sonora y contestataria, subraya” (“Howl and Other Poems is an excellent translation of one of the most controversial and thought-provoking voices of the 20th century, the north American, Allen Ginsberg.. This translation by Ariel López Home (sic) doesn’t betray the original spirit of the poet, instead it is his turbulence, his urgent and incessant tone, his sonorous and rebellious voice”
More international Allen-in-translation – The Beats in Croatia – Kozmopolitski pozdravi (Cosmopolitan Greetings), the third of the titles of “Beatbiblioteka” (the Beat Library), edited by Kruno Lokotar and translated by Vojo Šindolić for Hrvatskoga društva pisaca (the Croatian Writers Society) has just appeared. Krajolike živih i mrtvih (Pictures of the Gone World) by Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Prašinu u vjetru, (a selection from Gary Snyder‘s work), were the first two volumes.. Volumes by Gregory Corso, Jack Kerouac, Michael McClure and Bob Dylan are to follow.
Twenty-eight years now. On this day Keith Haring passed away.